The Discipline of Worship

It occurred to me as I read this chapter of Celebration of Discipline that there are some basic principles that apply to all the disciplines. No matter which discipline, the best way to learn it is by doing it, and you should do it even when you don’t feel like it. Emotional readiness is unimportant, even irrelevant. What matters is obedience. How you feel about it is likely to change anyway. The adage that right feelings follow right actions has universal application.

Take the discipline of worship. As Foster states, the call to worship is repeated throughout Scripture, and obeying that call can take various forms. We should expect worship to look and feel very different across cultures and populations. Even among the same demographic, each person is unique. So why would the worship of two very different individuals look exactly the same? Yet there are people who think they know the one right way to worship.
And quite honestly it’s hard not to judge. I’ll tell you a personal story to illustrate my point. In May of 2005, my husband was in Germany for work, and I had the opportunity to hear Ravi Zacharias speak at an event sponsored by the C.S. Lewis Institute. Sometimes it’s almost liberating to go to an event by yourself because you are not distracted and not tempted to analyze someone else’s perception. Anyway it was a two-day event that I almost didn’t get to. I remember my babysitter fell through and my darling neighbor across the street encouraged me to go: “I’ll keep the boys,” she said. And so I did. I went that night and the next morning. Ravi’s message was the best I’ve ever heard in my life. He tied together the biggest longings and the most nagging questions of human existence, and in the end he eloquently showed how all of these are answered and fulfilled at the Cross. I had never heard anything so philosophically satisfying, so intellectually beautiful, and the idea that the intellect and the philosophy stemmed from Jesus’ love for us! Well, I was overwhelmed, to say the least. When Ravi was done I had the strongest desire to lay down on the floor of the church and sob my heart out. But I didn’t. People would have thought I was nuts. I would have thought that I was nuts.
But maybe we need to let people be. Maybe we should disabuse ourselves of the notion that we know the one right way. Because I think it would have been a profoundly sincere form of worship if I would’ve laid down and cried that day.

4 thoughts on “The Discipline of Worship

  1. I cannot help but smile with understanding. I love this post.

    In our church's Sunday worship of about 500, I'm usually the only one who sings with upraised hands. I used to hesitate, until I heard these words sung:

    “Empty hands held high,
    Such small sacrifice …”

    More than once I've felt the urge to fall to my knees or face. Only once did I actually permit myself to kneel in song, in the back row, on a Sunday night. I tell myself I don't want to be such a distraction that others have their attention on me rather then the Lord.

    But one of these days … maybe …

  2. Thank you for stopping by my blog, Kristie!

    I love Richard Foster too, so I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on his teaching.

    I think heartfelt worship is a beautiful thing, but I definitely know about being inhibited! That's something I'm working on. 🙂

  3. Another topic that has been repeating in my life…worship…I've been reading about it in John 4, hearing it at BSF and at church…worship is worship when it is done “in Spirit and in Truth”…offering God HIS “worth-ship” and not focusing on what He has for me…worship of God almighty is to consume me, to focus on recognizing who God is…to forget about myself (and how others may be worshipping) which is ONLY possible if I make a concerted effort to think only of Him…

    How that happens for each of us will vary…I need to remember that myself when the “judgement” head takes charge in my mind!!

    I appreciated your illustration too…what an awesome memory to have lived! One day, we will all have that chance…to cry at the feet of our Savior!

  4. The longer I live this Christian life, the more I feel as you say… “But maybe we need to let people be.” Not that we aren't there for them, but that we let them be there without eclipsing them.

    Thanks for your presence at the InCourage giveaway. 🙂

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